In its trading update for the 20 weeks to 18 January, WHSmith reported it grew its revenue by 7% but saw a drop of 1% on like-for-like revenue.
In the retailer’s high street stores, total revenue and like-for-like sales were down 5% each, although WHSmith remained upbeat, saying that an active management of space, good cost control and gross margin growth continues to help this part of the business deliver sustainable profit and good cash generation.
It said that it has identified £3m of additional cost savings, which will be weighted towards the second half of the current financial year, bringing the total cost savings for the year to £12m.
Carl Cowling, group chief executive, said: “Our High Street strategy continues to deliver through continued gross margin gains and tight cost control.”
However the retailer is most keen to shout about the ongoing success of the travel wing of its business, which includes stores in railway stations and airports. It reported it expects to open between 15 and 20 new travel shops this year, including around eight in hospitals.
In the 20 week reporting period, WHSmith completed its acquisition of Marshall Retail Group (MRG) ahead of plan on 20 December 2019, almost doubling the size of its international travel business in the process, and accelerating its growth in the key US market.
Cowling continued: “In UK Travel, we have seen continued growth across all our key channels and we are on track to open a new flagship pharmacy format at Heathrow Terminal 2 this summer.
“Looking ahead, we are on track for the current year and as we continue to grow our share of the global travel retail market, the Group is well positioned for the years ahead,” he concluded.